ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – After 3 months of struggles, the New York Yankees moved back into first place.

Kevin Brown struggled in his return to the rotation, but Jorge Posada, Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui homered and Ruben Sierra hit a go-ahead, two-run single in the eighth inning in an 11-10 victory over the Texas Rangers on Monday night.

New York, which won for the 11th time in 13 games, improved to a season-high nine games over .500 at 50-41 and leads the AL East by a half-game over Boston and Baltimore (both 50-42). The Yankees, whose 11-19 start was their worst since 1966, were nine games back after play on May 7.

The Yankees, who have won seven straight division titles, had not been alone in first since beating the Red Sox in the April 3 season opener and had not held a share since after games of April 9, when they were tied with Tampa Bay and Toronto.

Brown, sidelined by a back injury since June 18, gave up three runs in the first inning but the Yankees scored six in the second and led 9-6 in the sixth before giving up four runs. Center fielder Bernie Williams dropped Hank Blalock’s two-out fly for an two-run error that tied the score and former-Yankee Alfonso Soriano, who had four hits, followed with a single off Wayne Franklin that put the Rangers ahead.

Sierra injured his left hamstring on his go-ahead hit, a single into the gap off Doug Brocail (3-2) with two outs after Robinson Cano singled and Alex Rodriguez walked. Sierra was helped off the field and likely is headed to the disabled list.

Mariano Rivera worked the ninth for his 24th straight save conversion, the longest streak of his career within a single season. Since blowing his first two chances of the season against Boston, he has been perfect.

Tanyon Sturtze (3-1), the fourth Yankees pitcher, worked 2 1-3 innings.

New York went ahead with a six-run second that included Posada’s 12th homer, a three-run drive that made it 4-3. Cano added an RBI single and Sheffield had a run-scoring double off Ricardo Rodriguez.

Sheffield’s 20th homer, his fifth in seven games, came with one out in the fourth. Rodriguez drew a walk before Matsui’s 15th homer made it 9-5.

With three other starting pitchers still on the disabled list, Brown returned to the Yankees without a rehabilitation start. He lasted just 4 1-3 innings, giving up six runs and 10 hits – two of them homers. He struck out three and walked none, throwing 53 of 82 pitches for strikes.

Soriano was caught stealing for the first time this year when he overslid second base to end the sixth after beating Posada’s throw. That was his second baserunning blunder in the game.

Soriano hit a drive in the first that ricocheted off the top of the wall in straightaway center. But he only got a long RBI single since he was watching the ball instead of running. He didn’t initially get to second base, even on the relay throw home to get Blalock out, but then stole the base and scored on Kevin Mench’s double.

Notes: Rod Barajas hit his eighth homer for Texas. … There was an announced crowd of 46,538, many of them Yankees fans. It is New York’s only series in Texas this season. … Brown had given up only two other homers, in his first start this season, April 17 at Baltimore.

AP-ES-07-19-05 0009EDT


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